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IN EOS QUI supra vires quicquam audent.

Those who venture on what is beyond their powers

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Dum dormit, dulci recreat dum corpora somno,
Sub picea & clavam caeteraque arma tenet.
Alciden pygmaea manus[1] prosternere laetho,
Posse putat, vires non bene docta suas.
Excitus ipse velut pulices, sic poterit [=proterit] hostem,
Et saevi implicitum pelle leonis[2] agit.

While Alceus’ descendant was sleeping, while he was refreshing his body with gentle slumber, beneath a spruce tree, keeping hold of his club and other weapons, a band of pygmies thought they could lay him low in death, not really grasping the limit of their powers. But he, waking up, crushed the foe like fleas, and carried them off, wrapped up in the fierce lion’s skin.

Notes:

1.  Hercules’ confrontation with the pygmies is described by Philostratus, Eikones 2.22.

2.  ‘the fierce lion’s skin’, the skin of the Nemean lion which Hercules always wore after slaying the beast ([A50a137], [A34a092]).


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VIRTUTI FORTUNA COMES.

Good fortune attendant on virtue

Anguibus implicitis geminisque caduceus[1] alis,
Inter Amaltheae cornua[2] rectus adest.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B1v]Pollentes sic mente viros, fandique peritos,
Indicat, ut rerum copia multa beet.

The caduceus, with entwined snakes and twin wings, stands upright between the horns of Amalthea. It thus indicates how material wealth blesses men of powerful intellect, skilled in speaking.

Notes:

1.  This was the herald’s staff, attribute of Mercury, god of eloquence, intellectual pursuits and financial success. The entwined serpents are a symbol of peace. See Pliny Natural History 29.12.54. The caduceus was Alciato’s personal device and was carved on his tomb at Pavia.

2.  Amalthea was the she-goat that suckled the infant Jupiter. Her horn became the cornucopia, the horn of plenty. See Erasmus, Adagia 502, Copiae cornu.


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  • Eloquence; 'Eloquenza', 'Fermezza & Gravitą dell'Oratione' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52D3(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Success; 'Evento buono' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54F1(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Luck, Fortune, Lot; 'Fato', 'Fortuna', 'Fortuna aurea', 'Fortuna buona', 'Fortuna pacifica overo clemente', 'Sorte' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54F12(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Virtuousness; 'Amor di Virtł', 'Attione virtuosa', 'Guida sicura de' veri honori', 'Virtł', 'Virtł insuperabile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57A6(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • 'Cornucopia', Horn of Plenty [92B11221] Search | Browse Iconclass

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